According to the Oxford English Dictionary; the definition of change as a verb is “make or become different.” As a noun, change is defined as “an act or process through which something become different.” In other words it is a transformation from one state to another.
Being diagnosed and living with chronic illness can be perfectly described by the word ‘change’ as our whole world is transformed from one of normality to one which includes numerous doctors and hospital visits as well as daily treatments. But transforming from being healthy to one with a long-term chronic illness is not the only change that occurs when illness takes ahold of the patient. Relationships, hobbies, like and dislikes as well as daily routines are all impacted by chronic illness and can change as a result. Personalities can change also, from someone who was outgoing, bubbly and happy can change to someone who is quiet, reserved, and has a low mood as a result of being diagnosed with a long-term health condition. Once, a person loves nothing but a night out with friends, but often when a chronic illness sets in then a night-in wearing comfortable pyjamas and watching TV seems like the idyll. Illness changes every part of a patient’s life.
But how has it changed my life? This is a great question, especially the long-term condition which I live with started during infancy. In this instance the changes have been more subtle; slowly progressing but changes nonetheless. Before my condition started progressing and becoming worse, I had no problems with walking, sure, my legs started feeling stiff and uncomfortable but other than that I could walk fine. Then, the condition progressed, making my balance worse as well as worsening pain and weakness in my legs. And as a result mobility accessories was another change that presented itself in my life – first was my cane, then the crutch and now I rely on a wheelchair when I go out.
Relationships in my life has also changed, once I was a dutiful daughter, happy to complete chores to help out around the house, now however, I am increasingly reliant on my parents for help – help cleaning around the house as well as my bedroom, help making meals and sometimes even simpler tasks such as making a sandwich, as well as helping me get to the bathroom when my legs are really bad. Often it feels as if our relationship has changed from that of parent and daughter to that of carer and patient. Friendship has been a constant change too in my life; often than not, friends don’t seem to stay very long in my life, whether or not they get bored with me saying no to day or nights out because of illness. Or perhaps they feel resentment for the need to pick me whenever we make plans because of my inability to drive due to my condition.
A lot of the friends I have met through the blog and Twitter who are also battling chronic illness has also talked about the change in their lives but I like to think that although there are a lot of negative changes that illness inflicts upon our lives it also has many positives, such finding each other through illness and finding connections between our lives because of it. Through illness it has helped us make very real, supportive and life-long friendships that will long remain. But also, living with a life-long chronic condition can also make us more understanding, and emphatic towards others. Illness does not mean the end but can change us into more beautiful and understanding human beings. Perhaps this can best be summed up by the proverb: